In the center of attention, one of the oldest rivalries in the history of the Euroleague, if you’re still wondering both team are tied at 13 a piece in past encounters. Last time Maccabi Tel Aviv have played an official game in the Mediolanum Forum was in the #TAE F4 which they won, but specifically they’ve played officially versus Emporio Armani Milan in the 2013/14 playoffs. Only then Maccabi had Ricky Hickman in their roster, tonight however he will play for the same team he eliminated back in 2014.
Both clubs had a catastrophic season last year in terms of the Euroleague, both clubs will hope to resurrect, so for the first time (this season) just before the tip-off as always #EA7MTA the preview:
1. The Hickman-Teodosic Bout: Fighting for Raduljica
You are not imagining, yes there’s a perfectly good explanation as to why Milos’s name has made it to this game. Ricky Hickman got injured pretty badly right before the climatic moments of the 2014/15 season, he was fit for Berlin but was barley used but for those who noticed Hickman showed he’s ready to play again, Milan were the ones that gave him the chance to lead them into a brighter future, and with Ricky being healthy and fit once again he will do a lot of damage to his opponents in various ways which brings us to our next point.
We’ve had the pleasure of watching Miroslav Raduljica playing for the Serbian national team, and for Panathinaikos as well, however it always looked as if he was much better playing for his national team, one of the main reasons for Miroslav’s dominance was simply because of the Maestro that was playing alongside him: Milos Teodosic. Milos knew exactly were to pass the ball to his big man, and not only that on a high post pic n roll between the two Milos also posed an immediate threat for a pull up jumper, something Calathes was not able to perform to the same levels.
Hickman can do just that, meaning he’s a good pick n role player who he can also go for a pull up jumper or even drive all the way to the basket, which is exactly why Ricky must be targeted by Maccabi’s defense and by that we mean Ricky alongside Mantas.
2.Maccabi’s Defense and Offense
So tonight should be Maccabi’s second official game, and they will play it without Sonny Weems, which was one of the team’s better defensive players, and one that so far has contributed on both ends of the floor. The team has showed that at times they will try to apply pressure at half court and also trying to trap, and when they did so it worked and helped creating easy points. The problem? They do not trap enough, and in general so far (and do bear in mind that this is the season opener) Maccabi’s Defense is not creating enough turnovers or contested shots that could be interpreted into easy points in transitions and fast breaks.
Offensively speaking the 2016/17 model of Maccabi is built to run more than anything, and with players that can do just that like Sonny Weems, Maik Zirbes (that can also play the post), Maccabi will have to rely on their defense more than the new rules concerning fouling on fast breaks. But besides just running we would like to see Iverson more involved in pick n role situations, more pin downs for the shooters, we would like to see tow wingers like Alexander and Pnini that can both pass the ball inside the paint with great ease, they have a few more options on both ends of the floor than what they’ve showed so far.
So far, coach Edelstein have used Rudd mostly at the PF position, however when he encountered solid EuroLeague players he struggled dearly, it’ll be interesting how he can cope on both ends of the floor against a tough player like McLean that is known for being physical or with Macvan that can pose a threat from the outside as well as from the inside playing with his back to basket, offensively Rudd should get easier points while attacking the rim with his face to the basket while playing against Milan Macvan. Should Victor play the SF position will not be a walk in the park as well.
Battle of Points: Hickman-Kalnietis can both pose good numbers in terms of facilitating and scoring, while Maccabi will have to get numbers form their Israeli duo at the back court that will have to be used in two different units in order to be efficient. Maccabi will have to pay more attention to Goudelock’s minutes as he just got back from injury, and that’s exactly why we are expecting to see more minutes from DJ Seeley, and also from the maturing Sylven Landesberg.
All in all there are a lot of expectations from both clubs, and when good results are a necessity and patience is scarce, this game is threatening to become extremely interesting for all sorts of reasons and possibly an instant classic. While one team will celebrate its season opener with a win the other shall forever Mark Thursday the 13th on their calendar.